(Phoenix, Ariz. – May 1, 2008) Attorney General Terry Goddard announced that a Maricopa County jury today convicted Edward Anthony Purvis, 39, of Chandler, on one count of bribery of a public servant and four counts of harassment of public employees.
The person he bribed was a Chandler police officer, and the persons he harassed were a Maricopa County superior court judge, the Maricopa County Superior Court clerk and two attorneys from the Arizona Corporation Commission.
According to court testimony, Purvis offered then-Chandler Police Officer Bradley Todd Forward future benefits of a job and a salary with the corrupt intention of influencing Forward to provide confidential law enforcement information to Purvis. Forward, who has pleaded guilty to a charge of computer tampering, testified that he used the law enforcement computer systems to obtain for Purvis confidential information on certain persons. He further testified that he provided Purvis with confidential investigation files of the Arizona Corporation Commission, which was investigating Purvis for alleged Securities Act violations. Forward maintained that he obtained this information at Purvis’ request and that he did so only because of his friendship with Purvis.
The harassment charges were based on a statute that criminalizes the filing of a nonconsensual lien against a public employee, if the filing is done with intent to harass and if the lien is not accompanied by an order or judgment from a court or other evidence of legitimacy. According to court testimony, Purvis, with no court order or other evidence of legitimacy, filed nonconsensual $15 million liens (followed by a federal court lawsuit to enforce those liens) against the judge, clerk of court, and two Corporation Commission attorneys. He did so with the intent to harass these persons and with the ultimate objective of derailing the Corporation Commission investigation into his securities activities.
The defendant maintained through attorneys and witnesses at trial that he had filed the $15 million liens as a concluding step in a multi-step “International Commercial Claim” program that involved sending numerous so-called “Admiralty Claims”. Purvis had been advised by some people that this was a legal and successful way to stop an investigation or get a new judge. The evidence also showed that Purvis had filed an Involuntary Bankruptcy Petition against a newspaper reporter who wrote articles that displeased Purvis, and he filed $15 million liens against a financial advisor who first reported Purvis to the Corporation Commission.
“The jury’s verdict validates the fact that bribing and harassing public officials are serious crimes,” Goddard said. “This should serve as fair warning to those who engage in conduct designed to harass public officials that if they cross the line, they can become criminally liable for that conduct.”
Purvis was taken into custody following the verdicts. Sentencing is set for May 29 in Maricopa County Superior Court before the Honorable Ralph Hess, a visiting judge from Yavapai County. Purvis is eligible for probation on one count and must be sentenced to prison on four counts. The prison sentences cannot total less than 1 year (with minimum, concurrent sentences) nor more than 18.75 years (with maximum, consecutive sentences). The presumptive sentence is 2.5 years on the bribery count and 2.25 years on each of the harassment counts.
This conviction is the result of a joint investigation by the Arizona Attorney General’s Office and the Arizona Corporation Commission. Assistant Attorneys General Kelly O’Connor and Ted Noyes prosecuted this case.